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Why did Cheteshwar Pujara come to open the innings with Mayank Agarwal on Day 2 of 2nd Test against New Zealand?

Pujara, who usually bats at No. 3, was promoted at top of the order in place of Shubman Gill.

Rohan Gulaty Author

Updated - 4 December 2021 5:57 pm

It was a dramatic day of cricket between India and New Zealand at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. From Mayank Agarwal scoring 150 to Ajaz Patel entering the history books with a sensational 10-wicket haul, it was a thrilling first innings with India eventually bundling out for 325. However, not many would have imagined that the home side will come out to bat once again after around 2 hours.

New Zealand had a disastrous batting collapse on Saturday and in only 28.1 overs, they were bowled out on 62 courtesy of some splendid bowling performance from India, especially Mohammed Siraj and Ravichandran Ashwin. Despite a huge 263-run lead, Virat Kohli decided to not enforce the follow-on and India were back to bat for the remainder of the day.

No Shubman Gill at top of the order for India

However, the fans were left surprised to see Cheteshwar Pujara walking out to open the innings alongside Mayank Agarwal. Pujara, who usually bats at No. 3, was promoted at top of the order in place of Shubman Gill who had scored an impressive 44 while opening in the first innings. So what was the reason behind this decision by Team India?

Well, as it turns out, it was not a tactical or a strategic call but was a forced decision. During the New Zealand innings, Shubman Gill suffered a blow on his right elbow while fielding at short leg and looked in a lot of pain. He was eventually taken off the field a few minutes later and was substituted by Suryakumar Yadav.

BCCI later confirmed that Gill did not recover completely from the injury which is why he did not come out to open the second innings as a precautionary measure. Although the extent of the injury is still unknown, the entire situation is likely to get clarified by tomorrow presumably once all the scans and check-ups are completed.

It gave an opportunity to Cheteshwar Pujara to find some form and he grasped the chance with both hands as he showed some positive intent in the middle, with his score reading 29* off 51 balls at stumps on Day 3.

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